Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Black Markets in Everything: NYC Food-Cart Permits

"New York City's competitive street food culture has created a thriving black market for mobile food vending permits issued by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The city charges a mere $200 for most food-cart permits, which must be paid every two years when they are renewed. But it only issues 3,100 year-round permits plus an additional 1,000 seasonal permits—not enough to satisfy demand. Transferring or renting these permits to another vendor is illegal but everyone, including the city's Health Department, acknowledges, that it happens.

Demand for permits and their black-market prices continue to climb as street food's popularity soars. Some permits fetch as much as $20,000 for two years."

~Today's Wall Street Journal

13 Comments:

At 3/09/2011 11:56 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/09/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

So, should sidewalk vendors be legal? Unfettered?

I think so, but I doubt most "libertarians" could stomach it.

Imagine people selling recreational drugs and pornography in front of your house, from pushcarts. How about rolling brothels? Losing your nerve, my "libertarian" friends?

Retail establishments go crazy when faced with sidewalk vendors (or even food trucks).

Still, I think we should rip the lid off, and legalize pushcarts everywhere, all the time. They can sell food much more cheaply than bricks-and-mortar restaurants.

Let's try it for 10 years. No licenses, no permits, no nothing. You can start up your own business with a pushcart, try your luck.

Now that is free enterprise.

 
At 3/09/2011 12:29 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Benji

"Imagine people selling recreational drugs and pornography in front of your house, from pushcarts. How about rolling brothels? Losing your nerve, my "libertarian" friends?"

This would be heaven! I could save a great deal of time, and gas - which is becoming ever more important - if everything I needed was available right at my doorstep.

 
At 3/09/2011 1:19 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H.--

I'll have my pushcarts ready to troll by your house, the day it is legalized.

Seriously, some of the best food in the world comes from pushcarts in Thailand.

Due to stupid (and always local) regs, we are shortchanging ourselves in America.

 
At 3/09/2011 1:22 PM, Blogger Tercio said...

They push those carts all the way from Thailand?

 
At 3/09/2011 1:40 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Tercio-

Yeah, you go the polar route in winter. The first Americans were actually pre-historic pushcart vendors from Thailand.

 
At 3/09/2011 3:15 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Yeah, you go the polar route in winter. The first Americans were actually pre-historic pushcart vendors from Thailand."

Wait a minute, I can't be fooled quite that easily. Who were their customers?

 
At 3/09/2011 3:17 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Location: NYC City Hall

Revenue meme -> Taxicab medallians $614,000

"Hmmm, Food Cart Medallians, yeah that's the ticket."

 
At 3/09/2011 4:14 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H-

Build it, and they will come.

I compare the early Paleo-push-cartists to those first astronauts who landed on the moon, and found a McDonald's already set up.

BTW, is anyone else surprised that there are more Subways than McDs? Who knew?

 
At 3/10/2011 7:27 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Benjamin: "Imagine people selling recreational drugs and pornography in front of your house, from pushcarts. How about rolling brothels? Losing your nerve, my "libertarian" friends?"

This would depend on who owned the road. Private roads would mean owners could control which carts were allowed on whose property.

Again, there's no libertarian problem with carts, only a statist manipulation problem with property.

 
At 3/13/2011 2:18 PM, Blogger ALima said...

I'm of the opinion that we should not limit ouselves needlessly. If we have web commerce why not push cart commerce? Retailers demand sevices that municipalities provide but what if it was up to retailers to provide these services? Like sidewalks and streets that could be controlled by the retailer? Politicians and city councils try to control development but who's to say the have best answers.

 
At 3/13/2011 2:22 PM, Blogger ALima said...

Wait- are you asking us if this country can stomach recreational drug use and porn? What kind of country do you think this is?

 
At 3/13/2011 2:37 PM, Blogger ALima said...

There are no "Black markets" just markets. The market can only be diminished by interference imposed by government but not stopped. The market will continue to adapt to it's environment. If regulatory decrees force people to be less open about their activity, doesn't matter, the market is still at work.

 

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